As we rung in 2014, Inesha and I were in what is arguably our favorite place in the world: Sri Lanka. But amidst the showers of sparklers from above and fireworks that lit the Colombo sky, I thought about all of the moments and memories that would fill a year freshly begun. This was 2014. But in the past few days of revisiting some of my favorite articles from 2013, I began thinking about a year that we won’t be ringing in until more than a decade from now: 2030.
This Economist article from this past June presents a compelling look at the state of global poverty, and shares the hopeful news that at least one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations has been achieved–that of halving the global poverty rate by 2015.
Of course though, in order to assess trends, we need metrics. Here are a few of the stand-out ones shared in that same article:
Roughly, every 1% increase in GDP per head results in a poverty reduction of 1.7%.
To understand what a decrease in extreme global poverty “looks like” numbers-wise, one estimate says that 2/3 is the result of growth and 1/3 the result of greater equality.
China has the most to boast about when it comes to rates of poverty reduction. 75% of the global poverty reduction seen in the past three decades is attributed to progress made by the modern giant.
So, what I am looking forward to in 2014? Time with my family and friends. My first semester abroad. The experience of knowing and loving people in more than one place. Inevitably this will mean more travel and frequent flyer miles logged. While I have loved the burst of travel opportunities that college and the past 2.5 years have brought, I also hope to move around the globe with a keen awareness of the economic and social environments that I drop in and out of as the months pass. They are all vastly different from one another, and if the trends continue, all will be increasingly more conducive to growth in the coming decade. Of course, there will be pitfalls and new obstacles too. For one, the rate of poverty reduction will have to slow down, and that will likely make the next great goal in poverty reduction much harder to reach. But if progress is made in both boosting growth and decreasing income inequality, then it seems possible.
If the story of extreme global poverty reduction were a book, then the authors of the Economist article posit that China wrote the first chapter of this three-part story. The second and last chapters must be about India and Africa, the regions of the world where the largest number of the world’s poor people remain. The issues of identifying the poor and revisiting the chronic problem of inefficient aid distribution will be paramount as global leaders strive towards the alluring promise of 2030.But sitting here, looking at the first frost-bitten days of 2014, I am thankful that there is a good deal of hope to be had.
Poverty used to be a reflection of scarcity. Now it is a problem of identification, targeting and distribution. And that is a problem that can be solved. –Not always with usHere’s to a joyous and prosperous new year! xo I & I